Arthur Lismer first visited me in Algonquin Park in May of 1914. I met Arthur at the Canoe Lake Station. It was about ten o’clock in the evening when the train rolled into the station. After nine stuffy hours in the train, Arthur revelled in the fresh and cold air, invigorating his body and forgetting about the city left behind.
It was a cold spring night, the frogs were piping as we drove through the bush to the Fraser’s at Mowat Lodge. The glorious moon was coming over the spruce tops shedding a yellow and mysterious light on everything. The air was tang and I could see that Arthur was anticipating every bump – he did not know what to expect – this was an alien land to him. Continue reading “Me and Arthur Lismer 1914”
If I was asked to describe Mowat Lodge in a word or less, I’d diplomatically describe it as ‘rustic’. Less diplomatically, I’d describe it as ‘run down’ but that’s two words, so I’ll refrain from the less diplomatic description and say nothing.
Humour aside, what made Mowat Lodge so endearing was Annie Fraser. That is to say, not Shannon Fraser. Annie could make the most wonderful meal from the most forlorn root vegetable and she knew how to make the rooms just right.
Mowat Lodge was a former hospital turned resort and some days I did feel like a patient there. The Fraser’s desperately needed the business and it was a fortuitous event when Mark Robinson pointed me in the direction of Mowat Lodge in 1912.
‘Rooms are cheap there”, Mark said, suspicious of me being a poacher. His motive was to keep me away from the more reputable establishments in the hope I would leave. Over the years Mark and I became good friends, and I still managed to stay away from the more reputable establishments, as I would joke with him, unless there were girls there.
Shannon Fraser was a piece of work, mind you. He originally came to disassemble amble the lumberworks but saw the opportunity to create a resort. With the Highland Inn and its high falutin’ guests, it was only a sure thing that guests of equal or lesser pedigree would stay at his establishment. He was right. It was me and my artist friends who made Mowat Lodge into a summer artists colony of sorts over the next few years.
But it was Annie who kept the place together. Bless her heart.